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I was so lazy this morning and afternoon -- I got out of bed around 1 to have some lunch, then got back in bed until like 3:30. I just couldn't muster an ounce of energy. It's supposed to be a running day, but that was not going to happen. I had plans to meet my friend Eric at 6:30 for a walk in the park near my house, so I knew I'd do SOME moving, but I didn't feel like trading a 5-mile run for a little stroll was something I could feel good about. So I finally pulled myself out of bed and got on my bike. I didn't have any errands to run, so I decided to bike to the gym. It's about a 4-mile ride, nothing too challenging. So I get there and then I'm like, well, what can I do here that won't make my ride home awful? So I did some arm stuff and then got on an elliptical for a while to play some bridge. I biked over to pita pit to grab dinner before meeting Eric, and he texted me while I was there that he was done early, so he came and met me. We decided since we were both there already, we'd just walk through the central Beaverton neighborhood. We meandered for a while, and eventually found ourselves at Josh & Mary's street, so we meandered up to their front door and said hi.

They informed me that Gwen had announced today that I am her favorite person. That's pretty exciting for me! I'm a big fan of hers, too.

We stayed to play a game of Dixit, then headed out so that I could beat the sunset home on my bike. Made it just in time. So after being a lazy fucker until almost 4pm, I did spend the next 5 hours being moderately active the whole time, so I guess I salvaged my self-respect for the day.
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I am so sick of all the disrespect I get at the bridge table. I'm too mentally exhausted to go into the whole story from today, but it has a happy ending, anyway. My team won. We're a hodgepodge team thrown together to fill out the event, and we fully expected to be bottomfeeders, but we were solid today and tomorrow we'll play against Dave's team for the district championship. I feel like I'm playing some of my best bridge ever, and while I don't think our team is better than theirs, I think we could win. I would like that very much.

The thing I hate the most, though, is that when I complain about being disrespected, most (older white men) think I'm overreacting. The older white men in charge of ruling the game (and handing out zero tolerance penalties) don't think any of the transgressions that bother me warrant a ZT. (Then why call it ZERO tolerance if you'll tolerate MILD abuse?) But get fucking disrespected every goddamn time you play, and the littlest things eat at your soul. I just wish the directors would have my back here. Or that I could stand up for myself without looking like a whiner or some kind of tattletale.

But you know what?

Scoreboard, motherfuckers.
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Friday is my weigh-in day at Weight Watchers, in the three weeks that I've been going back now. I haven't been attending meetings again yet...dunno if I will...I don't feel like I get much out of them because they're mostly about tips for cooking, which I don't do, or how to get started exercising, and I already do a lot of that, so...meh. They're pretty boring. And I know the program. But maybe the extra boost of accountability would be good for me.

Anyway, I was down 1.6 pounds this week. That's good! But...I was disappointed it wasn't more. A few reasons. One, I feel like I really stuck to the program closely this week, and therefore it *should* be a nice big loss, whereas last week, I didn't start tracking until the middle of the week, but lost more weight. Two, I've got so far to go before I feel good about my body again, I just want it to go faster. I know there are natural ebbs and flows with a woman's metabolism, so the fact that I was "better" this week but lost less isn't that big a deal, really, and I still lost almost 2 pounds, which is the high end of healthy weight loss for a week. I just wanted it to be more. Like...30 pounds. Is that so much to ask? Yeah, yeah, okay. Honestly, I'd like to lose 40 pounds from where I am right now. Realistically, my body just may not be able to maintain that low a weight anymore. The best I've been able to maintain in my 30's is about 35 pounds below my current weight. That was before my car accident and before I switched from Prozac to Effexor. The lowest I've ever been as an adult is 50 pounds below my current weight. If I get that low again, it'll be because I'm very ill. But anyway, doing the math, if I can sustain what is really a fast weight loss pace of about a pound and a half per week, I'll meet my goal by, like...the end of summer. Which feels so far off. And that's if I do this quickly. Sigh. I wish I could be genuinely happy at any size...I DO believe I'm beautiful at my current size. I know Toby thinks I'm gorgeous. But I just don't like my body like this. I'm not as strong, not as fit, and my clothes don't look as good. So...onward.
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Birthday week has been fantastic! Let's back up to last weekend. On Saturday, Toby and I went to Seaside and played a weekend of bridge. The weather was crap, but the tournament was a good time. It was Toby's first real bridge against decent competition, and we did about as well as a pair can be expected to do in such cases...45% and 41%. Sure I'm disappointed we didn't scratch on Saturday, but that wasn't really even remotely expected. On Sunday, Joe and Amy joined us for the Swiss teams. I have too many points for the team to compete in the limited games, so we were in the A/X field, which was 6 9-board rounds. Any bozo can win short rounds, but 9-board rounds are pretty tough. It's generally long enough for the better team to win, and with one complete novice on our team, the expectations were not high. But we won 3 out of the 6 matches! And all but one of our losses was a close one! All in all it was very good, and we actually tied for 2nd in X, which was worth a little more than our match awards were. So Toby has his first silver points and I'm very proud :)

On Wednesday, I had one of my biggest crowds ever at trivia -- it was standing room only at the Jolly Roger with 10 teams playing. It was awesome to have such a big crowd, and it meant I actually got some kinda decent tips.

Thursday was our birthday. Toby went to work, and Nick came over for our weekly nap, lunch, and board games. I felt like walking up to Rainy Day Games just to see if there was anything new I should buy myself for a birthday present. $100 and three games later, Nick and I came back to my place to test one of them. It's called Castles of Caladale. It's Carcassonne-ish. A little faster and lighter than that. I've only played it as a 2-player game so far, but it plays up to 4. I like it. I also picked up two new expansions for Mystic Vale. It's a newer game we've been playing with our game group, and I really like it, but it's not very well balanced. It's the kind of game where a bad bit of luck can get you irretrievably behind, and then it's just a slog until it's over. But the guys at the shop said the expansions help balance it a lot, so I'm excited to try them out. Hopefully we'll give that a go at our game night tomorrow. Toby had a work team thing after work, so we moved our birthday celebration to Friday night. I'm glad it worked out that way, because we ended up getting to do a little extra partying.

Toby made reservations at Epif, a vegan South American-inspired restaurant in NE (not that there are any vegans in South America, but the food was good!). We dressed up all fancy and took transit out there so we could get our drink on if we decided we wanted to. There was a gelato place right next to the restaurant, so naturally we went there for dessert. We decided to go back downtown to the Barrel Room, where I used to host trivia, for some drinks before heading home. It's a really fun dueling piano bar on weekends, and the show was just revving up when we arrived. We didn't really intend to stay long, but we got sucked in -- it's just such a fun atmosphere. I texted our friends Jared and Auburn, who are usually out on the town on Friday nights, and sure enough, they were nearby and were happy to join us.

For some reason last night, the bar was serving all cocktails in solo cups, so I got a nearly-full solo cup of martini. Hilarity ensued. Well, really just a lot of drunken dancing. But then at the end of the night, I made out with Auburn a little bit. I'd never kissed a girl before. Felt like the thing to do. :)

Toby and I rode the last Max home, and we did the things couples do when celebrating birthdays, followed by sleep.

I had plans to play bridge with Joe today at the club at the south waterfront at 1, but I had no intention of waking up sooner than noon. Somehow, though, both Toby and I were awake by 10, and the weather was splendid, so we decided to go for a bike ride. We rode a few miles and got breakfast, then rode to the train. We trained into Portland, and I rode another couple of miles from the Max stop to the bridge club, all along the river. It was beautiful. Joe and I had a nice game, and I reversed the ride for the way home. Lots of good exercise on a beautiful day. I've been super tired since bridge, though, and will probably fall asleep early tonight.

Also yesterday, I made it back to Weight Watchers for my first weigh-in since returning to the program a week ago. I was down almost 3 pounds! I gained a frightfully discouraging amount of weight in the clinical drug trial I was in, so I've got a long way to go before I'm happy with my body again, but it was nice to start with a good week. I hope I can keep it up! Toby and I are sticking with the 100 pushups program, too. I've repeated a few weeks along the way, but will be starting week 5 tomorrow. I can definitely see a difference in my arms. Just gotta keep on with it. Tomorrow will be a running day. After sleeping in.
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It really hurts my heart when people say they struggle with depression but don't want to try prescriptions. I have a few friends on Facebook who are saying this very thing right now, and it just makes me sad. When I first went on antidepressants, I expressed concern to my psychiatrist. What if it makes me empty inside? Or I don't feel like myself anymore? She said that if that happens, it's the wrong medicine for me, and there are plenty of other meds out there that we can try until we find the right one. That's why they require follow-up visits after prescribing. That put me at ease, and luckily I have had a relatively easy time adjusting to medication. I am infinitely better off because I take these pills, and they do have some negative side effects (weight gain, difficulty orgasming, lower libido), but the benefits are so worth it. And those negative side effects are all things I've been able to overcome with varying degrees of success. It just takes some time to adjust.

It just makes me want to scream when people know they need help and know medication exists but don't want to try it. It's like the simplest thing a person can do to improve their life the most, and yet so many people just create reasons in their heads that it's not worth it. Or they have a bad experience with one medication (maybe not even antidepressants) and swear off prescriptions forever. I just...ARGH.

Fine, I guess. Your body, your choice. But it sucks to be here watching someone self-destruct when the solution is so simple and obvious. Especially when they post to Facebook "what should I do about this?"
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I went back to Weight Watchers today. I promised my therapist this was the week. Of course I waited until Friday. Afternoon.

For those not in the know, I was in a clinical drug trial for the last year. The last six months of the trial, I was put on a drug that made me gain weight like mad. Super fast, lots of weight. 30-40 pounds in six months? Didn't help that with my various injuries, it's been hard to keep in a regular fitness routine. But the trial is over now so there's no chemical reason I shouldn't be able to lose this weight. I stopped gaining weight, but since the trial ended, I haven't really lost any, either, despite my attempts at better habits. I knew I needed to go back to WW. The plan has always worked really well for me. It's just a matter of staying on it. So I guess starting today, I'm back on it. The shitty thing is that even if I do really well, it'll take many months to shed the weight I put on, and that's really discouraging. I also hate when people see me who haven't seen me in a while because I look like I REALLY let myself go. And I want to be like "it was for science!"

I also did my second bike ride in two days. Just rode home from the shop where I'd had it tuned up, about a 3-mile ride. My crotch is sore from the saddle, but I think if I make sure to ride regularly over the next week or two, that should go away, and I'll be able to handle longer rides.

Tomorrow, I leave bright and early for Seaside with Toby. We're staying at a hotel and playing the team game on Sunday as well. In my mind, I'll wake up early Sunday and go for a run on the boardwalk. But the possibility of actually doing that is probably pretty slim. I'll pack running gear just in case...writing it down here just boosted the likelihood that I'll go by at least 40%.

Poly Hate

Apr. 20th, 2017 12:23 am
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Lately, I've been feeling really *confronted* by anti-polyamory attitudes. I say confronted rather than annoyed because while it is annoying, I don't give it that kind of power. I scoff at and I pity those who can't wrap their heads around my lifestyle. I've never been a polyvangelist -- it is SO not for everyone, at least not given the societal conditioning we've all had. I'm not saying my way is the best way and everyone should do it. It's just best for me. But so many people are either offended by the way I live (because it affects you...how?) or unnecessarily concerned for my well-being. Even many of my good friends encourage me to force Toby to give up his other relationship and be monogamous. That people seem to think I'm wrong about what makes me happy is just...weird.

Except for our nation's leadership and the almost certain destruction of our planet, I'm the happiest I've ever been. Aside from Dan, who was not a good fit for me for other reasons, this is the only serious relationship I've ever been in -- EVER -- where I am not being abused, either physically, emotionally, or both. And yet many people would be more comfortable to see me living inauthentically, perhaps even in an abusive relationship, because at least it's heteronormative. I'm not saying my friends wish abuse on me. I'm just saying I wish people would really think about what they're saying when they suggest to me that my current choice in relationship structure is harmful to me. I'm happy! That's the point, right?

I think what it boils down to is the insecurity of others. People who are uncertain about their own choices only find validation when everyone around them makes the same choices. Getting married and having kids are two big ones. But the idea that people can be happily non-monogamous seems to really rattle people even more than the idea that a woman of childbearing age may not want to use her uterus that way, or that two people can be committed to each other without being married. I do want to marry Toby. Obviously, I'm the marrying type. I keep doing it. So many of my friends have suggested that Toby and I will "settle down" when we have rings on or something. I mean it's not like our non-monogamy is somehow wild. We're pretty settled down as it is. And he's pretty settled down with Candace, too. We have learned about ourselves, through various means of discovery, that we are not likely to ever focus 100% of our romantic love in one place. I never have been able to, so it's nice to have a partner who will not expect me to. Anyone who thinks Toby and I love each other less than monogamous couples because of our lifestyle obviously hasn't spent much time with us. (The only friends of mine who suggest I would be happier if Toby and I were exclusive are the ones who have not spent much or any time with him.)

The funny thing is, since breaking up with Dan, Toby has been my only partner, and I'm happy with that. I've gone on a few dates, and I've made some romantic-ish connections, but right now, I'm happy with Toby when he's here, and being alone or with platonic friends when he's not. But that doesn't mean I'd be happy closing off our relationship. For one thing, Toby loves Candace. I don't have any desire for him to end that. Second, my schedule and priorities will change over time. Maybe I will stumble into another relationship even without looking for it. I don't want to close that door for myself. There is no one way to be polyamorous. People who try to live by a definition end up really unhappy. You and your partner(s) are never going to want exactly the same things, but it's important to choose partners who accept what you need and want without pushing your boundaries with regard to their needs and wants.

I'll never understand why a lot of things appeal to people, but if they can enjoy those things with enthusiastic partners and be happy, who am I to tell them they're doing it wrong? Shrug. Relationship-wise, I have exactly what I want. I know a lot of people will never get it, but that's okay. They're not the ones I want to be with :)
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I got my taxes done yesterday (shut up), and I didn't owe nearly as much as I thought I was going to. So that's kind of like found money. Exciting :) Doing taxes always stresses me out like whoa, and I feel like, if it's this hard for me to understand, the average schmo can't possibly be doing it right, can they? I'm glad Toby was there while I worked on it. He's such a calming influence for me. Getting that done and the relief of not owing more spurred me to be very productive. I ran 3.2 miles in honor of the 32 Virginia Tech victims on the anniversary of the shooting. Toby and I also went to look at bikes, and he ended up buying one for himself (the one he owns already is a single-speed cruiser). We got a bunch of accessories for both of us, and I scheduled a tuneup of mine. I'm really looking forward to doing more biking as the weather gets nicer. We also picked out a recipe from a cookbook and shopped for the ingredients and made it. It was really good, but Toby ended up burning the garlic, which stunk up the whole house. So we took a late evening walk to the head shop a few blocks away to get some incense :)

This morning, I met my lawyer to pick up my settlement check from my accident. Nearly 3 years after the crash, that's done. Of course it's not really over. My body hasn't been the same since, and it probably never will be. But the paperwork and lawyer part is done. It's a relief.

Since I had to be downtown to get the check, I met Toby for lunch and decided to go to the gym down there. It's about a 1/2-mile walk from Toby's office. When I got there, though, it was closed. Apparently there are structural issues with the building next door, so it's a safety issue. I walked the 1/2-mile back and got on the train to go home, determined to just go to the gym in Beaverton instead. But when I got back, I could barely keep my eyes open. All I wanted was a nap. I did not, however, want the dose of self-loathing I'd get if I skipped, so I summoned 100% of my willpower and I went for a 30-minute elliptical session. Not much, but way more than a nap. I'll do pushups tonight with Toby. We're working our way through the Hundred Pushups Challenge together. It's a lot slower progress than the last time I did it, but the progress is undeniable, so I intend to stick with it.

Right now, Cleopatrick is snoozing and purring on my chest. I'll have to move him in a half hour or so so that I can get to therapy and then a showing afterwards, but for right now, I'm a very happy cat mom.
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I met up with a friend from my high school crowd tonight. I hadn't seen Tim since high school, but he remained close with Rafal, and I got back in touch with him after Rafal died. I wanted to talk to someone who knew him and knew me, and just remember. Tim and I agreed that we both remember Rafal fondly in spite of everything, and we reminded each other of a lot of old fun. Of course bad memories exist, but they don't feel important. I had a LOT of fun in high school, and I know I'm lucky to be able to say that. I told Tim how he and the gang taught me so much -- and helped shape the edgier sides of me. It was really, really nice to see him and catch up. I've had a lot of really nice times with old friends as we come together to remember Rafal, mostly virtually so far, but Tim and I discussed maybe doing a thing over Christmas when more people would be available. I'd really like to do something like that.

My visit so far has been really nice. It's great to spend time with Trevor and Emily and Chris, of course. Today I got to wear Trevor in a baby carrier for a couple of hours while Em and I walked around the neighborhood and also while she took care of some chores for her parents. He fell asleep while I sang "Gentle Arms of Eden" to him, and I remembered how much that song comforted me the last time I was afraid of our nation's leadership. Luckily, he's Canadian.

Tomorrow I'll head over to BC, as is tradition when I am back east, and then meet up with Nancy and her family for dinner on my way back over the mountain. Calling Afton Mountain "the mountain" is funny to me now that I live in the shadow of Mount Hood. The Blue Ridge are pretty in their own way, but I prefer the Cascades.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I moved to Dreamwidth. I'm going to post more there. Most of the reason I've posted so little here is because I've been uncomfortable with the whole Russia bullshit, and now with the new TOS, fuck it. I'm out.

Same username there. Let's keep in touch :)
jianantonic: (Default)
Hi! So, I'm here now. It was past time to leave LJ, and I hope now that I don't have any conflicts about the host site, I'll be more frequent in my posts again. Those who followed me at LJ know that I can be a prolific journaler. Whether it's interesting or not...I make no promises. But my grammar will always be correct.

I'm in Charlottesville for the week, spending time with some hometown folks, but mostly Emily and Baby Trevor. He's almost 4 months old now, and he's as cute as can be. He's got much more personality and bulk than he had when I met him at 3 weeks old, but it's still a bit early to say what kind of person he's gonna be. I'm excited about the kind of parents Em and Chris are and will be, though. Em told me I had to help teach him how to treat women and the people he will date. I'm honored to take on that responsibility, but glad I have some time yet to come up with my lesson plans. I told her for now I think the most important thing is teaching him about bodily autonomy. As he grows into his free will, letting him decide when he wants to be hugged or give hugs, things like that. Show the respect we want him to show for others, starting from the beginning. She's already on board with that, and I think she's got all the right ideas about how to raise her kid. She's not going to need me to be a leader in any of these aspects, but I'm happy to reinforce whatever she teaches, and also to be another resource for when Mom and Dad don't make sense, or he just needs an outside opinion. And of course if he wants to learn bridge...

Speaking of bridge, things have been going great with Toby's game. We've played a lot of the mentor games, and we've done pretty well there, but the field of competition is not exactly top notch. Toby is still at the point in his game where he'll get trounced by "real" players, but he's ready to at least start competing in bigger games. We're going to a sectional in Seaside the weekend after we both get home. He's in Hawaii while I'm in Virginia. We miss each other, but mostly miss the cat. We can text each other.

I spent the afternoon today walking around the Downtown Mall with Emily and Trevor. It's weird how trendy and boutiquey Charlottesville has become. It was headed that direction when I was here in my 20's, but it feels like it's really doubled down in the last few years. I guess if you can't live in the PNW, it's an alright place to be.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Lately when I get bored and can't find any new content on the internet, I've been browsing wedding rings.

Since the ACA didn't get repealed this week, the practical urgency for marriage is somewhat reduced, but...

I want to do the thing.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I called my mom this evening to get the latest from Charlottesville, and also to share the exciting news that Toby's brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first kid this September. I've only met Toby's family over video calls, but I'm still very excited about adding another nibling to the mix. I'll meet them all this summer, and then will hopefully have a chance to go back with Toby after Christmas, too. We'll see if the finances work out for two Europe trips this year.

Anyway, Mom had a really interesting and unexpected reaction.

"You know, I've been thinking, with how much you love that cat...maybe you and Toby should have one."

!!!!!!

Okay, I don't want kids and my mom knows this. She's not going to pressure me or anything -- she's got enough grandkids to be content -- but she's NEVER encouraged me to have kids before. I was really touched that she said that, even if it isn't something I want at all. It's a real vote of confidence in Toby, too. Which of course he deserves, but I don't expect my parents to give him full marks since they still love McKenzie a lot and also since I really suck at marriage. But her saying that made me feel really good about how *she* feels about Toby. Yay :)

One of my favorite things about Toby from the very start of our relationship was and is how much he adores his nieces and nephews. He is a doting uncle and they love him back. Then couple that with the fact that he doesn't want his own kids, and he's already 90% of the way to being the perfect man for me. I think it's rare you find people who are so enthusiastic and being aunts and uncles who don't want their own kids. So to find someone whose enthusiasm matches mine on both sides of the equation was really a jackpot situation. AND he loves cats. I mean, he's fucking perfect, you know?

In other news, my friend Cristal won her first national bridge championship yesterday. I'm SO happy for her, and also SO jealous. I played with her in the Portland regional and had a great time. It's what got me revved up to want to play more tournaments. She's a stronger player than I am, so I don't harbor illusions that if only I'd been at the NABC, it would've been me...but a lot of my peers have been doing very well at this NABC, and I do feel like if I were competing there, I'd be celebrating my own successes as well. I don't know when I'll get back to nationals, but it won't be this year. Sigh.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Last week, two of my friends (both the same age as me) found out that their partners have cancer. They are still learning more and/or haven't shared prognosis details, but it's still scary as hell. With Rafal's death in addition to this news, I'm even more aware of mortality than I normally am.

I'm not afraid of my own death. I'm totally at peace with the idea that one day I will be gone from this earth. But I'm terrified of losing loved ones. I've been a paranoid nag about my parents' health since I was a teenager, and I'm so grateful that they're both very healthy for their age, but their age alone scares me and I know I will lose them one day and I hate that. But the scariest thing for me right now is losing Toby.

I am not even a tiny bit worried about our relationship ending. I know I've failed at two marriages, but even in those relationships, I was never 100% sure they would last. I had lots of fear of breaking up, being left, or even my own ability to sustain my love. I don't have that at all with Toby. We're disgustingly perfect for each other and I'm 100% certain that we're in it for the long haul. I haven't had any doubts about this in a long time.

But suddenly I'm really afraid that he'll get sick. One of those illnesses that strikes without regard for how well you've cared for yourself all along or how old you are or anything. If that happens to ME, it'd probably suck, but I'd just take it as it comes and deal as necessary. Toby, though...shit...if I lose him...I just can't even imagine a future without him. I don't want to.

I know that worrying about things you can't control is a big fat waste of time. It impedes your ability to enjoy the present. I get that, and know that worrying won't change anything except my own mood. But sometimes I just get freaked out and have a hard time putting the scary thoughts aside. Now having written this down, I'm going to hope that I can put it out of my head for now.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Rafal made sure to make my birthday special. It was only a few days after Marma's death, and I was still in a very sad place, but he treated me so sweetly. I don't remember what we did or all the gifts he gave me -- but one that sticks out in my mind was this album of the Billboard top hits of 1986, I believe. I was a little confused as to why he chose that, but then he told me it was because of the song "Lady in Red." He was really into techno and hard rock, but for some reason he loved that song, and it reminded him of me. I'm not sure I ever really wore a lot of red, but that's not important. He played the CD in his car stereo and we stood in my driveway and danced to it on my birthday. I felt like royalty.

The summer after we started dating, Rafal went to Poland for a month to spend some time with his dad. That month was torture for me -- I missed him so much, and he was only able to get online once every few days. I lurked by my computer all the time, not wanting to miss a chance to IM with him. But mostly I moped. I went to basketball camp at Virginia Tech while he was away, and made some good friends, but still spent all my time talking about him and whining about how much I missed him.

He got in late one evening in July, I think, and came straight to my house. I had been up waiting for him, not sure when he'd get in. This was before the days of cell phones and tracking flights online and whatnot. I was so excited to see him, and we were both so tired when he arrived. Me from staying up into the wee hours waiting for him, and him from the travels and jetlag. He couldn't keep his languages straight -- he would accidentally speak Polish when he got very sleepy. I thought it was funny, and would go on to prank him many times later in our relationship by pretending not to understand him and claiming he was speaking Polish when he was actually speaking English. He always fell for it. But I always let him in on the joke after I'd had a good giggle.

I think he spent the night at my place that night. I'm not sure if that was the first time, or if he did in fact stay over, but as time went by, staying over would become normal. We slept in the den, where there was no lock on the door, so I guess my parents assumed that we wouldn't do anything more than cuddle and they never objected to him being there. I don't think I ever asked permission...it's just a thing that started happening. And for a while, it was innocent.

My timeline is a little fuzzy on just when certain things happened in our relationship, but I do know that very early on, I told him that I would be willing to have sex with him, but I didn't feel ready. I thought I needed to say this, because he was older, and I assumed experienced. It turned out that he was also a virgin, but I didn't know that when I planted this seed. He was respectful of my youth and unreadiness for a bit...but he got anxious for the sex, and would constantly remind me of what I'd said so early on. He did eventually pressure me quite a bit, and it was something that we fought about a lot in the first year of our relationship...but I'll get to that later.

Awkward description of teenage sex stuff )His behavior with regard to sex is probably what led me to fall out of love with him. Over time, I got disgusted with how used I felt sometimes. He would come home from college to visit me, and the first thing he'd want was sex. We still fought a lot, about I don't even know what -- we both had bad tempers and I guess it probably didn't take much to get riled up on either side. I started wanting us to fight so he'd break up with me. I was afraid to break up with him because I was afraid he'd hurt himself. I can't remember if he ever suggested he would or not, but I was very worried it would happen anyway, so I wanted to make him end it. And eventually he did, but it took a long time.

Still though, after the breakup, I wanted him back. We reconciled for a bit, and things were good for a bit, and then they weren't again. I messed around with other guys, he found out, and that was the end for us. But I wanted him back again, and tried desperately throughout the summer of 2000, but he'd already found Whitney then. He wouldn't take me back, and eventually I got over it.

It was years before I heard from him again. After I married Jeremy, word got back to him that I was married, and he reached out to me. We did a lot of apologizing back and forth, and formed a really good friendship. I began to feel very attached to him again. We spoke every day for a while and grew very close. I guess Whitney sensed what was happening, because she asked him to stop talking to me. I was hurt when that happened, but I understood. Later, when I moved back to Charlottesville, I would run into them both at the gym quite frequently. I talked to Rafal when I saw him, but it was all just superficial then. I never really connected with him again. And now I never will.
I still have more memories to share from the relationship; I'll leave those here as they come to mind and as I have time. There's still a lot more to unpack.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)

April 24th, 1998. We'd gone out to a movie. We went out to lots of movies. We got home sometime in the early evening, maybe 8 or 9, and the house was quiet. I went upstairs and caught a glimpse into my grandmother's apartment. Something wasn't right. She was lying on the floor. Her eyes were closed and her lips were black.

"Marma!"

"Meg, get out of here. Mother's dead." My parents were in her kitchen, on the phone with the ME. I guess they'd only found her a few minutes before I got home. I ran down the stairs screaming and crying, to where Rafal was waiting. I sobbed out what I'd seen, and he held me. We went outside and walked around the neighborhood while I processed. He just listened to me talk about all the things that were so earth-shattering to me. I'd grown up with her. I was closer to her than any other family member. I just poured out my thoughts and sobbed while he held me and we walked slowly.

When we looped around the neighborhood and got back to my house, first responders were there -- I can't remember if it was ambulances or firetrucks or both, but the ME's car was parked on our lawn and they were just wheeling her body out. I didn't want to see that. We did another lap of the neighborhood. When we got back, the cars were gone. We went inside and I curled up in a fetal position on the couch in the TV room, still sobbing, while Rafal rubbed my back. Eventually, my mom came in to check on me. She and my dad had been too busy dealing with everything else. She was crying, too. She hugged Rafal and thanked him for being there for me. She left us alone. Rafal stayed with me all night. I fell asleep crying while he knelt beside me and comforted me. He never said anything like "it's going to be okay," because I think he knew I didn't want to hear that. He just listened to me process. He was exactly what I needed in that time. He handled it like a champ. It must have scared the bejesus out of him, but he never let on. We'd only been dating for two weeks.

I thought about how he was there for me in what had been my darkest moment to date, and how he had seen me at my absolute saddest, and how he had just been so understanding and so patient and sweet. I felt that because of that, he was perfect for me. I wanted him in my life forever, and this felt like the sign that he would be. As time went on, and I would question our relationship, thinking I might want out, I would think back to that night, and how he was there for me, and talk myself out of it. With the way he treated me in that moment, he'd bought himself admission to the rest of my life.

This sounds like a pretty unhealthy way to look at it, and maybe it was. Remember, I was 14 -- my 15th birthday was the day of the funeral. But also, I think it was fair. How someone treats you when you need them the most, when you are at your worst, is a true indication of their character. It's not that I used this one display of kindness to tether me to a relationship I ultimately didn't want; it's just that it always came to mind when considering his character and my future with him. It wasn't the Ace of Spades, but it was a powerful trump card. Still is. Whenever I think of him, this night is always a part of the picture. He was my first love, my first...other things...stories I may or may not decide to record as I continue this process...but he will always be the gentle, loving boyfriend who cared for me perfectly when I absolutely needed it the most. I am so grateful he was with me that night.

jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I don't remember when he gave it to me, but it must have been early on. I don't remember if I asked for something, or if he just gave it to me, or what the circumstances were. But he had this denim shirt. The brand was GANT, according to a little tag on the back. He gave it to me, and I sometimes wore it, always slept with it...held it very dear. I don't know what happened to it. I'm not sure when I stopped sleeping with it. I just remember that shirt.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I've been wanting to write a lot more, but it's hard. I've had to give myself a break from the sadness a bit. But here's a little bit more for now.

I honestly don't remember the first time I told Rafal I loved him. I'm pretty sure I told him first, because I was 14 and it didn't hold a lot of weight to me at the time. I liked him a lot, we were boyfriend and girlfriend, it was no big deal for me to say it. But I do remember the first time he told me. I think it was probably a day after I told him. It hadn't even registered that he hadn't said it back immediately. It was no more than a week into our relationship. We had been to see City of Angels, I think, with Phred, maybe some other people, too, and afterwards the three of us went to Agnor Hurt Elementary School to hang out at the playground. Phred and I were being goofy, and Rafal was annoyed because he was trying to say something serious to me. He asked Phred for some private time with me, and told me he loved me. There was a little bit of a speech involved, and I don't remember much of it, except I do remember Rafal seemed to want me to take it really seriously. And I was very happy when he told me, and gave him a big hug and kiss and told him I loved him, too. At the time, it was sweet, but not really the big deal that first Ily's carry in relationships once you've got earned some baggage. He told me he'd been really thinking about it, and to me that seemed silly because why would you need to think about what you feel? And why would it be a big deal to tell me? Wow, I miss how simple things used to be.

I had no idea what love was supposed to be when I was 14. I had lived a charmed life to be able to just freely give and accept it and not feel like it had to be a *thing.* I do think I legitimately loved him, even then, even as clueless as I was. I have always been able to tap into deep emotions pretty easily, so even if I didn't realize the depth of it, I do think the love was real. At least a seed of what would become a more adult feeling as time went on. I was crazy about him, and sublimely happy that he seemed to be crazy about me, too. 
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
It was freshman year at AHS. I had my first kiss at the beginning of the year -- Simon Moore, on the Downtown Mall at Fridays After Five. And then I'd had my heart broken for the first time, when Simon dumped me a few weeks later. But Simon gave me a confidence I hadn't had before -- that guys could like me and I could like them back and we could admit that to each other and then I could even have a boyfriend! So I mourned Simon, but I turned my attention to Alex Gomaa, a junior boy I knew nothing about, except that he had beautiful long blond hair, and a sister in my grade. I became obsessed with Alex, learned his schedule and made sure to walk routes through the school that were most likely to put me in his vicinity. I was a 14-year-old girl.

Midway through the year, my friend Rebecca, whom we all called Phred that year, started going out with Matt Binder. Matt was a junior boy from her Civil Air Patrol group. Because Phred and I were joined at the hip, I started hanging out with Matt's friends, mostly other junior boys and their girlfriends. They were somewhere on the teenage clique spectrum between the skaters and the goths. Mostly outcasts, but large enough in number that you couldn't call them unpopular. Just very differently popular. I got to know some of them a little bit, but I was mostly shy, being a freshman who was just hanging around because of this other freshman girl. I didn't feel like I was really wanted there. I listened and laughed and tried to be polite and behave however would keep them from telling me to fuck off. They were all nice, though, and no one ever came close to telling me to fuck off...that I know of.

Soon I noticed that one of the guys from this group, Rafal, had the same lunch period as me (we were divided into three different lunch periods), and that he sat at a table with Alex. I decided this was my in. But, me being a freshman girl, it wasn't as simple as talking to him to talk to Alex. I had to talk to Phred to talk to her boyfriend to talk to Rafal to talk to Alex. Duh. Long story short, that freaked Alex out more than flattered him, and nothing ever came of me and him. But now everyone knew I was obsessed with Alex.

AOL was in its infancy then. I had something like a 14,400bps dial-up modem that year (maaaaybe it was up to 56K, actually? seemed super fast at the time!), and I spent a lot of time logged on, IMing with my friends and waiting two hours for different Hanson websites to load their latest pictures. One day I got an IM from a screen name I didn't recognize. He was Clone99 and he knew who I was, but his profile didn't have any identifying information. He told me he went to my high school and was a junior there. Ever optimistic, I hoped I was talking to Alex. We chatted for a long time. He said I knew who he was, but wouldn't reveal. It was a fun game. Whoever I was talking to, I liked him. I asked him what his name started with, and he wouldn't tell me, but he did say "Not A, sorry." That was a giveaway that it was someone who at least knew about my crush on Alex. I decided the most likely suspect was Rafal, since he was the one I'd indirectly asked to be my gobetween. Except I had no idea how to spell Rafal, and I guessed "Rufaul?" So he said no. I really didn't have any other guesses, but we kept talking for a while and I was really interested. I can't remember if this unfolded over the course of one conversation or if it was several days, weeks, whatever...I'm really not sure...because I know I started hanging out with this crowd around Halloween (Phred had hosted a Halloween party and we were all there), but Rafal and I didn't start going out until April. (The 9th, to be exact.) Phred and Matt had broken up by then, so I don't think I was even hanging around the group anymore at that point. But anyway I think the IMing started very shortly before we started going out. I can't remember if he revealed his name first or asked me out first, but we agreed on a Wednesday that we'd go out that Friday. He would come and pick me up and I'd choose where we would go. I was so excited and nervous. I remember when he revealed his name to me, it was full of suspense. We were saying goodnight over IM, and he said
And my name is...
Rafal.
And when I saw the name, I remember the exact feeling. My heart fluttered and I got butterflies all over. I had wanted it to be him ever since I'd been informed that it most definitely was not Alex. As soon as he confirmed who he was, Alex was ancient history.
I sort of think all of this IMing and like insta-falling for him happened in one night, on that Wednesday. But it's possible that Clone99 strung me along for a long time before revealing himself. In any case I remember that it was Wednesday because our date was going to be Friday and we had two days of school between agreeing to go out and the actual day...and on Thursday at school, I went to find Rafal, and I hugged him, and everyone in the group made teasing "aww" noises at us. And that was April 9, the day that we marked as our anniversary.

Waiting for Rafal to pick me up, the clock moved so slowly. I don't remember what I wore -- I'm not sure I was enough of a teenager to care yet at that point -- but I do remember deciding to water the plants in the garage in the few minutes before he was supposed to arrive, so I'd be outside when he pulled in and there wouldn't be an awkward doorbell moment with my parents, or with me rushing to the door too quickly or something. But I remember having LOTS of nervous energy waiting for him to arrive.

So I'd had a boyfriend before, for like ten minutes, but I'd never gone on a date, really, much less had to plan it. Looking back, I cringe, but I told Rafal we were going to go ice skating. He was good at roller blading, but not great at ice skating, and I was really good at the time, and I didn't really stick with him that much. He probably felt like the date was really sucking. I was having fun, though, because I loved ice skating. He fell once. I was really embarrassed for him. After skating, we walked around together on the Downtown Mall for a while. I remember running into some other friends, including Simon, which further shittified the date for Rafal. But he liked me enough to just deal with it, and we held hands and walked and talked, and I was having a marvelous time, even if I was sort of torturing him.

When he dropped me off at home, we stood together in the driveway, leaning on the driver's side of the car, hugging each other. We both wanted to kiss, but we were too nervous, so we just held this long embrace. When he said he had to go, I took his car keys and threw them into the trees by my house. He liked that, and made no rush to find them. We just hugged, without saying anything. I felt his heart beating hard, probably because he was nervous, thinking about kissing me, and I'm sure he felt mine beating hard for the same reasons, too. We stood there so long that we actually fell asleep holding each other. Not like a long sleep, but we both nodded off. When that happened, we conceded it was time for him to head home. But he'd be back the next day.

I don't remember what we did on Saturday. We may not have gone anywhere, actually. It's possible he just came over and we hung out. What I remember from that night, anyway, all happened on the big brown couch at my house. I remember him telling me why he had developed a crush on me. When Phred and I would hang out with their group, he'd talk, and I'd make eye contact with him, and laugh. He said he could tell I was very sweet because of how I paid attention to him when he talked, and he'd had a crush on me since I'd started hanging out with them, back in the fall. But when I'd tried to get him to pimp me to Alex, he'd given up for a while. That made me so sad. I was really falling for him, and I hated that I'd hurt his feelings. I would have loved to have gone out with him, even at the height of Alex Mania. But we'd found our way to each other eventually. All was well now! He had told me over IM that there was an easy way to keep him awake if he was falling asleep -- I could give him a kiss. So that night, we're hanging out, and it gets dark, and we're alone on the couch together with no lights on or anything, and he starts nodding off again. Or maybe he's faking it. But anyway he reminds me of what he told me. It takes me a moment, but I gather my courage, and then I kiss him.

Now, Simon was the only boy I'd ever kissed before, and I was always so self-conscious while doing it. Simon only ever kissed with lots of tongue, so that was the only kind of kissing I knew of. I never really made out with Simon...just had a few long, sloppy kisses every once in a while at school. But here I am on my couch in the dark with Rafal, and no bell is going to ring to send us to class, and no one is around, so we just keep kissing. And I remember how he took the lead, and varied the amount of tongue, and how it felt so exciting and so good. I was amazed by what I was experiencing. I didn't know you could make out while not being deep into the other's esophagus the whole time. It was magnificent. Rafal also liked to do this thing where he would suck my breath out. It was a goof, but he did it a lot in our early relationship. I don't remember if he did it that night or not, but it's something I remember about making out with him.

We were doing some serious making out that night, when all of a sudden I hear the front door. We bolt apart on the couch just in time for my brother Adrian to open the door and see us sitting in the dark, three feet apart from each other and staring straight ahead. He knew what was up, and reminded me that he's not an idiot. He suggested that it was a little too late for me to be having boys over, and effectively sent Rafal home.

The next day was Easter Sunday, and I skipped church, because I'd been up late making out with my new boyfriend. My family had all gone, though, and at about 11:30am, the phone rang at home. I answered, and it was Mama Hallock on the other end. She was the priest's wife (Episcopal priests can be married). Except on Easter Sunday, she always dressed up as the Easter Bunny. So she's not using her regular voice, but she's using this high-pitched voice, and says it's the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny tells me she knows that I was with a boy last night and that's why I skipped church, and that's not cool. I was MORTIFIED. It was all in fun, though. It's not like kissing was doing something wrong, and I don't think Mama Hallock was really scolding me for dating. I'm sure my brother just thought it would be hilarious. And it was. To him.

Didn't stop me, though! Rafal and I were together every day from that point forward. He'd come to my house around 7am each morning to have breakfast with me and drive me to school. He worked in the afternoons at a vet clinic, but he'd come over after that. Sometimes he'd pick me up and we'd go out; other times he'd just hang out at the house with me. One thing we did a lot was we'd go into the small bedroom downstairs that still had a twin bed in it at the time, and we'd just lie down and cuddle on that bed. It was very innocent. When I was lying in the crook of his arm, I wanted to stay there forever. He said the same thing. And we did lie like that for hours on end. It felt really perfect.

To be continued...
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I think I'm still a little bit in shock about Rafal, but I'm starting to feel things a bit deeper now. I hadn't interacted with him in a long time, but I thought about him fairly often, really. I'm not at all the same person I was when I dated him, and I'm sure he's quite different, too, but I do think that we fundamentally knew and understood each other from our time together in ways that only people who've dated long-term really do. And writing that feels almost silly, because we were CHILDREN practically. But those were formative years, and it did last a long time, especially for two kids. Thinking back on my teenage years, he's all throughout them. I want to record as many of my memories here as I can, now that I'm the sole proprietor of so many of them.

Before he died, if you'd asked me to make a list of the people I love, he probably would not have been on it. We were Facebook friends, but we rarely interacted and had few mutual friends anymore. He mattered to me, but if you'd told me I would never see him again, I probably would have just felt like, "yeah, I didn't expect to." But now he's gone, it's clear I still have love for him. I haven't stopped thinking about him since I found out about what happened. I want to write about him in two ways -- I need to process what has happened, and write about that, but I also just want to write memories from 20 years ago. I want to read those memories again one day and just have them, not his grisly death, on my mind. So I think I'll say a few more things about how I'm processing his death, and then move on to the memories in a new post.

I don't remember a single specific fight he and I had, but we did fight a lot. We both had terrible tempers. But he never laid a hand on me. I do remember being afraid to break up with him, because I thought he may hurt himself. I was never afraid of him hurting me, even when we got very angry. Maybe going through memories will bring up some specifics of our fights, because looking back I'm not even sure wtf we had to fight about. But anyway thinking about his temper and his passion, I'm honestly not surprised about what happened. (For those who did not see my facebook posts: he shot his wife and then himself. He had been with her since shortly after he and I broke up; nearly 17 years.) I'm nearly certain he did not plan to hurt her. I don't know why he owned a gun but I can say with near certainty that what happened is that they were fighting, it got incredibly heated, and because he had a gun nearby, he shot her without thinking. I'm sure he regretted it instantly, and then killed himself. From what I've heard from people closer to them, they were having marriage issues, and I think he was afraid of losing her. Maybe he was losing her, and couldn't handle it. He is absolutely the kind of person who attaches his identity to his relationship. Every photo in his Facebook profile is the two of them together. They did EVERYTHING together, even after 17 years. I'm sure he couldn't imagine life without her, or doing so sent him spiraling. I doubt there's a note, because I think it all probably happened in an instant. I am painfully curious about the details, but at the same time, I think I can imagine them well enough. I'm also certain that if he didn't own a gun, they'd both still be alive. I believe it was a blinded-by-rage situation, and not premeditated. It's possible I'm wrong about this, but I don't know. I don't know why they would've had a gun. Rafal could be very paranoid; maybe he'd had one just in case for years. It's possible he just liked shooting and went to ranges for a hobby. I could see him being into that.

A lot of friends have said to me that they're glad I didn't stay with him; glad it wasn't me. Sure, I'm better off for having moved on, but I don't believe he would've killed me if we had stayed together. I'd have never allowed a gun in my house. He could be mean and hurtful, but he never lied to me. I know he wouldn't have gone behind my back on the issue if I'd insisted. So I just know that situation never would've played out. So I'm not having the kind of emotional "oh my god that could've been me" attack. I'm not sure what all my emotions are, but they're not that. There's actually a lot of regret at not staying in touch with Rafal better, which is weird. I find myself wishing I had known him in his 30's, like I had in his teens and 20's. (The trajectory of our relationship was thus: friends for a little while, followed by dating for nearly 3 years, followed by a very painful breakup where we didn't speak to one another for years after, then he reached out to me when I married Jeremy and we became friends again. We started getting really close, and Whitney wasn't comfortable with it, so after a few months of that, we stopped chatting much. But when I lived in Charlottesville, I'd run into them both at the gym, and we were in touch occassionally on Facebook, and I know he was a regular reader of this very LJ. I'm not sure if/when he stopped reading. Probably the last time we actually spoke to one another other than a FB comment -- which itself was rare -- was around the time I moved to Oregon. So, nearly a decade now.) Anyway I feel like it should be easy to hate him, because look what he did. He's a murderer. And now he's gone so good riddance? But I don't feel that way at all. I regret that he ever got a gun. Because he and I are a lot alike, and I know that if I'd ever owned a gun, the chances are 100% that I'd have killed myself and probably better than 50% that I'd have taken someone with me in anger. And I don't think I'm a bad person. I think I have had trouble controlling my temper, and because of that (and a zillion other reasons), I know I can never have a gun. Maybe Rafal trusted himself too much. Or maybe he knew, just like I do, that owning a gun would be his undoing, and he made the conscious decision to go that route. I don't know. Maybe that's something the investigation will uncover. Whether those answers ever trickle to me is unlikely, though.

Anyway what I've learned so far from my own reaction is that I still held a lot of love in my heart for Rafal. It makes me think of how there are certain other exes in my life that I have often wished...not dead...but out of existence? I'm not saying I've ever wanted harm to befall any of my past loves, but there is so much baggage, with McKenzie especially, being out there in the world and involved in bridge in a way that keeps me from comfortably participating the way that I want to. And I have so much anger toward him, too. Sometimes I hate that he's successful or happy. It would be easier for me, sometimes I think, if I never had to know that he was out there. That sounds rough, I guess, but it's a feeling that's in me. And now with Rafal's death, I know that's not really what I want. Because no matter how much anger or even apathy I think I feel, I once felt intense and deep love for him, and that's enduring in me, somewhere, some way.

I wonder about their families...Whitney's especially. I know Rafal was very much a part of her family, and I'm sure they loved him. Do they still? Or do they hate him for his final act, taking her with him? Can they reconcile years of loving him as family with what he's done? Can they bury them as a couple? Would burying them together or separately be more of a dagger to their memories? How do you even?

I find myself wanting to talk with him. Meditating to connect. But I know that doesn't happen. The dead don't just talk to the living. Maybe they show up in some ways, plant seeds for us and leave signs, or visit dreams...or maybe the living just make up these ideas for their own comfort, and they're not real at all. But maybe, even if they don't communicate back in a way we can understand, the dead can hear our messages to them? I don't really believe this, but in light of this event, I WANT to. And so I've been talking to him a little, trying to get him to help me fill in the missing pieces in the memories I'm about to record. I don't know if he's there or not. I think probably not, but I want him to be. Even if he is a fucking murderer. Fuck.

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Meg

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